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Hat Monster
2002-Mar-31, 09:45 PM
My budget is 200.
I'm in the UK.
I need a scope.

Anybody got any suggestions?

JimB
2002-Apr-01, 01:53 AM
I help out at a small telescope store in Austin, TX. Belive it or not, we've sold a few scopes to people visiting from overseas (Austria, Brazil, Israel & Germany). They all say being outside the USA makes it a bit harder to get new resonably priced stuff (from a dealer the price is much higher to cover warranty). They are willing to pick one up at our store (able to see and touch), haul it thru the airport, and forget the warranty because the price is so low.

For that price I'd recommend good 7x50 astronomical (focus on a pinpoint at infinity) binoculars and a good star book. Easy to use, useful during the day, very portable, fabulous views of milky way, and good introduction to faint objects (Andromeda Galaxy and Orion Nebula).
Telescopes at this price usually have way too cheap a mount and way too high magnification.

Good Luck

Chuck
2002-Apr-01, 01:58 AM
Make your own? Don't all you dedicated astronomer types like to grind mirrors and stuff?

Gsquare
2002-Apr-01, 02:10 AM
On 2002-03-31 16:45, Hat Monster wrote:
My budget is 200.
I'm in the UK.
I need a scope.
Anybody got any suggestions?


Here's a trade in shop in your neck of the woods (in U K) that had a 6" Celestron (mint cod.) w/ equitoraial mount for 200 pounds.

URL: http://www.tradeinpost.com/ bino.html

David Hall
2002-Apr-01, 03:26 AM
200 pounds doesn't seem like enough to me for any kind of really useful scope. Remember, you'll also want eyepieces and other accessories as well.

I say go with the binocular idea mentioned above, or even better, search out the scope you "really" want, and then start saving until you have enough to get it. You'll be much happier in the end that way. (I always find myself disappointed whenever I compromise my true desires and settle on something less than what I want.)

David Hall
2002-Apr-01, 03:29 AM
Here's another idea.

Maybe you can find a used scope. Check out ebay and such. Maybe you can get lucky and find a bargain or two. Also good for telescope accessories.

Take care to examine the quality carefully however.

JimB
2002-Apr-01, 11:46 AM
Instead of eBay (where a lot of traxh scope are found among only a few good scopes) howabout AstroMart? These are serious amateurs "trading up" and usually have very resonable offers:
http://www.astromart.com/categories.asp
You'll have to do a lot of communicating to find which are the best buys.

For more information you can go to these review sites:
http://www.scopereviews.com/
http://www.cloudynights.com/
http://www.findascope.com/
Some of these are geared toward top dollar (top pound?) scopes but they usually try to work in some first scopes, too.

If you don't buy binoculars first, you'll probably get them second -- almost everyone does.

Clear Skys

Hat Monster
2002-Apr-01, 05:32 PM
I've already got a pair of binocs, 16x50.
They're nice but I've out grown them.

So the concensus is "You're too cheap to be an amateur!"?

I'll keep an eye out for second hand deals. What's good and what isn't?

aurorae
2002-Apr-01, 09:20 PM
On 2002-04-01 12:32, Hat Monster wrote:
I'll keep an eye out for second hand deals. What's good and what isn't?


Start by reading the links in the BA's beginner article posted here on his web site.

http://www.badastronomy.com/bitesize/scopefaq.html

Also, see if you can find a local Astronomy Club. Do an online search.

Hat Monster
2002-Apr-01, 09:49 PM
With the help of somebody who knows a whole load more about this than I do (and lives locally) that I found on the amateur radio, he's told me to basically forget about anything between 300 and 1,500 unless I'm planning on leaving the country or heading for Scotland. Fact of life is light pollution.
I've been told that Tasco (who made my binocs) are okay for the beginner and not all that expensive. It's extremely expensive, apparently, to get hold of things like Orions and Celestrons since they're imported and sold at a massive premium. Good advice or not?
Anyhow, I've shortlisted
this scope (http://www.tasco.com/products_display.asp?productID=252&familylineID=51&familytypeNAME=LUMINOVA&usagetypeID=0&usagetypeNAME=&producttypeID=4&producttypeNAME=TELESCOPES) which I can get new for 230 (approx. $350)
Basics: 900mm focal length, 114mm (4.5") arpeture, focal ratio 8, equatorial mount.
At highest power eyepiece, 225x, it appears to stick razor edge on the golden "Avoid if more than 50x per inch", being precisely 50x per inch.

Am I about to buy a turkey or not?

Club:
The closest astronomical club is in Manchester, which is over 50 miles away (and a drive through the local highlands which doubles journey time). One ten miles away dissolved in '97.

[edit: URL was chopped. It's http://www.tasco.com/products_display.asp?productID=252&familylineID=51&familytypeNAME=LUMINOVA&usagetypeID=0&usagetypeNAME=&producttypeID=4&producttypeNAME=TELESCOPES ]

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Hat Monster on 2002-04-01 16:51 ]</font>

JimB
2002-Apr-02, 12:32 AM
The Tasco scope looks pretty good. I recognize the mount and 114mm aperture will show more than your binoculars. The main "problem" with it will be that 3x Barlow and the 4mm eyepiece. The low and high power eyepieces are good choices, but the super high power of the 4mm is only good for the moon on very, very stable nights. And the 3x Barlow will probably only work well with the 25mm (low power) eyepiece.

The problem with high and super high power with this scope is the mount. High power magnifies everything: air turbulence, scope misalignment, vibration when focusing, vibration from wind, vibration when moving to track the sky, ...

Your friend's advice is fair, but not using your scope because you think there might be some degradation means you won't see anything. The moon has thousands of craters and each one is different while Jupiter and Saturn are visible for about half the year no matter the street lights your're under.

It is very common now days to make 15 to 60 mile trips away from the city for star gazing. It takes about that much distance to get out where you can see enough of the stars to find the galaxies, nebulas, and clusters.

Clear Skys

Hat Monster
2002-Apr-02, 02:09 AM
What I was told I'll repeat here. It's not along the lines of don't run when it's not friendly, it's more of I'm not in the best of areas, it's two hundred miles to the nearest partially dark site and that's not amazing when you get there. Visual limiting mag here is about 5 at zenith on a dark night but approaching 1 close to the horizon.
Since I'm a beginner then I've been advised to start low and work up if and when I'm ready. Makes sense to me, there isn't much point me shelling out a truck load of cash for a scope when I'm just starting.
One thing we do have is pretty steady air. I noticed that with the binocs, but they're a real pain since they're heavy and high power - I know all about jitter at high magnifications!

A few more questions:
How's the equatorial for tracking? Should be better than the alt-az I used on the cheap refractor I had when I was a kid.
How does that mount look for stability?
What is a Barlow anyway?
Will I be able to get into low-end imaging with that thing? I've just finished modifying a webcam with a dry-ice cooler and long exposure settings. Pity it's got loads of hot pixels.

Thanks guys, don't hesitate to shoot me down at any stage if I'm about to do something stupid. This is a lot of money to me.

_________________
"We want a few mad people now. See where the sane ones have landed us!" - George Bernard Shaw

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Hat Monster on 2002-04-01 21:10 ]</font>

JimB
2002-Apr-02, 03:12 PM
Hat Monster --
Visual limiting mag here is about 5 at zenith on a dark night but approaching 1 close to the horizon.

That doesn't sound too bad. What constellations can you see? The bright star patterns are what will lead you to the objects invisible to your eyes. In my front yard (in the Austin city limits, between some brightly lit highways, and with neighbor's yard lights) I can see 7 to 10 stars of Orion, several of Canis Major, and only Castor & Polux in Gemini. I can find almost a dozen objects (including Jupiter and Saturn) in that area to observe with a 85mm scope. They don't look as good as a dark sky site, but they are there.

One thing we do have is pretty steady air. I noticed that with the binocs, but they're a real pain since they're heavy and high power - I know all about jitter at high magnifications!

I'm not surprised, 8x is the most I can hand hold. Have you tried attaching the binocs to a camera tripod? Lots of binocs have this option. Have you tried laying on a lawn-chair or a sleeping bag spread on the ground? Standing adds a lot of jitters.

A few more questions:
How's the equatorial for tracking?

Fair for visual observing. At 45x you'll need to turn the slow motion control about a quarter turn every couple minutes. At 90x you'll have to turn it twice as much. Aligning a polars can be tricky. At first don't even worry about it, just point it north and set the elevation to your latitude. Even a rough guess is OK for visual.

How does that mount look for stability?
You'll need a lot of patience. That's a pretty big (weight and length) scope for that little mount. Don't raise the tripod legs, use a chair to sit at the eyepiece, and protect it from wind.

What is a Barlow anyway?

It's a simple lens (or two) that increases the magnification of any eyepiece you put in it. In this case it triples it. Most likely you'll only use it with the 25x eyepiece. (By the way, the 1.25-in diameter eyepieces are a very nice feature. Smaller ones (0.96-in) are a joke. You'll be able to get better ones later if you want.) The maximum magnification I'd use for this scope is 100x to 200x depending on the stableness of the air or the mount.

Will I be able to get into low-end imaging with that thing?

Sort-of... Astrophotography is very diverse. It depends on the brightness of the object, the aperture of the camera system (how much light is gathered), and how much you magnify the object. All of which controls the length of exposure which is limited by the mount. Photos of the moon, Jupiter, and Saturn are pretty short (fractions-of-a-second to seconds) therefore the tracking and vibrations of the mount aren't too important. Photos of visible faint objects (Orion Nebula or Andromeda Galaxy) require several minutes which starts to require much better tracking and a solid mount. Photos of invisible objects require 10s of minutes or multiple exposures over hours which means precision tracking, guiding, focusing, and very solid mounts.

I have over $4000 invested in astrophoto equipment (200mm scope, film camera, adapters, etc.) and I get good images sometimes. ( http://www.telescopes-r-us.com/gallery/gallery.htm images by jb are mine) All that money doesn't guarantee good pics, it widens the type of objects I can try to photograph.

Determination, study, persistance, patience, scientific application (take notes, change a single variable, etc), creativity, preparation, and luck get good images. Anyone can have all those atributes.

You'll be able to get great Moon and lunar crater photos. Jupiter and Saturn are very worth trying for. Fainter objects will be difficult. If you find the 114mm scope of fair quality, then at a latter date you can put it on a better mount and get even more types of photos. The mount is usually the limiting equipment in astrophotography.

Thanks guys, don't hesitate to shoot me down at any stage if I'm about to do something stupid. This is a lot of money to me.

Have an idea of what to expect and you won't be disappointed. Colors require film (or ccds with filters); telescope viewing is a greyscale world. A 114mm scope can't show you what the Hubble Space Telescope sees (nor a 200mm or a 400mm). Magnification is not the most important aspect of a scope, aperture is. Just because the Milky Way is invisible to you because of your neighbor's yard light, doesn't mean it's not there.

Clear Skys

Hat Monster
2002-Apr-04, 01:01 AM
Thankyou, Jim.

You've confirmed some things I already know (it's good to have multiple agreements) and informed me on some I don't.

I'll let you guys know how it went when I get the scope and get it working properly, now I know it's not a turkey.

Thanks guys.

GrapesOfWrath
2002-Apr-04, 10:38 AM
Check out this Meade 60x700 Autostar (http://www.heartlandamerica.com/cgi-bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=49210462&EXTRA_ARG=&host_id=1&page_id=225&query=telescope&hiword=TELESCOPE+TELESCOPING+TELESCOPES+) for $199(US). Factory overstock? Must not be selling many 60mm Autostars.

JimB
2002-Apr-04, 12:55 PM
$795 MSRP!! Maybe, but nobody sells it for that price. $199 is about the right price for a scope of that type.
The AutoStar is a great feature and attached to a larger scope you'll see a lots of stuff. But this size scope (60mm aperture and 700mm focal length) is really only capable of showing the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, a few bright nebula, and daytime wildlife. Faint objects are going to be very tough to locate. The 114mm aperture Hat Monster is looking at gathers over 300% more light.

The mount for the 60mm is just barely able to hold that scope steady. Also, it's an Alt-Az which is capable of tracking the moving stars (with the AutoStar and its motors) but will cause the image in a camera to rotate. You need to be on an equatorial mount (one axis pointed at the celestial pole) to prevent field rotation in the image. Hat Monster wants to try photography so this scope is inappropriate for him.

Clear Skys